Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Acacia angustissima
(prairie acacia)



Acacia angustissima (prairie acacia)


  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Acacia angustissima
  • Preferred Common Name
  • prairie acacia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. angustissima is a shrub or small tree reported as having a high potential of invasiveness due to its prolific seed production, rapid growth, and its capability to reproduce vegetatively (

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Typical small branchy tree in full bloom, Chiquimula, Guatemala.
TitleTree habit
CaptionTypical small branchy tree in full bloom, Chiquimula, Guatemala.
Copyright©Colin Hughes, Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Typical small branchy tree in full bloom, Chiquimula, Guatemala.
Tree habitTypical small branchy tree in full bloom, Chiquimula, Guatemala.©Colin Hughes, Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
TitleTree habit
CopyrightDuncan Macqueen, DFID-assisted CPATU
Tree habitDuncan Macqueen, DFID-assisted CPATU
TitleTree habit
CopyrightDuncan Macqueen, DFID-assisted CPATU
Tree habitDuncan Macqueen, DFID-assisted CPATU
CopyrightSonja Bowden
ShrubsSonja Bowden
CopyrightDuncan Macqueen, DFID-assisted CPATU
FlowersDuncan Macqueen, DFID-assisted CPATU
Lax flower heads, illustrating cream-white stamen filaments.
CaptionLax flower heads, illustrating cream-white stamen filaments.
Copyright©Colin Hughes, Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Lax flower heads, illustrating cream-white stamen filaments.
FlowersLax flower heads, illustrating cream-white stamen filaments.©Colin Hughes, Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Unripe, flat, glossy maroon pods.  Pods turn mid-orange when ripe.
TitleSeed pods
CaptionUnripe, flat, glossy maroon pods. Pods turn mid-orange when ripe.
Copyright©Colin Hughes, Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford
Unripe, flat, glossy maroon pods.  Pods turn mid-orange when ripe.
Seed podsUnripe, flat, glossy maroon pods. Pods turn mid-orange when ripe.©Colin Hughes, Dept. Plant Sciences, Univ. Oxford


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze

Preferred Common Name

  • prairie acacia

Other Scientific Names

  • Acacia angulosa Bertol.
  • Acacia boliviana Rusby
  • Acacia elegans M.Martens & Galeotti
  • Acacia filicena Willd.
  • Acacia filicioides (Cav.) Branner & Coville
  • Acacia filicoides (Cav.) Trel.
  • Acacia glabrata Schltdl.
  • Acacia hirta Nutt.
  • Acacia hirta Nutt. ex Torr. & Gray
  • Acacia insignis M. Martens & Galeotti
  • Acacia lemmonii Rose
  • Acacia pittieriana Standl.
  • Acacia suffrutescens Rose
  • Acacia texensis Torr. & Gray
  • Acaciella angulosa (Bertol.) Britton & Rose
  • Acaciella angustissima (Mill.) Britton & Rose
  • Acaciella costariciensis Britton & Rose
  • Acaciella holtonii Britton & Killip
  • Acaciella martensis Britton & Killip
  • Acaciella rensonii Britton & Rose
  • Acaciella santanderensis Britton & Killip
  • Acaciella talpana Britton & Rose
  • Mimosa angustissima Mill.
  • Mimosa filicoides Cav.
  • Mimosa ptericina Poir.
  • Senegalia filicina (Willd.) Pittier

International Common Names

  • English: fern acacia; prairie wattle; white-ball acacia
  • Spanish: cantebo; cantemo; carboncillo; chilipac; guachillo; guaje; guajillo blanco; guajito; guapinico; huajillo; palo de pulque; timbe; timbre

Local Common Names

  • Costa Rica: carboncillo
  • El Salvador: guaje de bajillo
  • Mexico: guajillo; timbe; timbre; xaax
  • USA: barbas de chivo; cantemó; palo de pulque; prairie guajillo; Texas acacia

EPPO code

  • ACAAG (Acacia angustissima)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. angustissima is a shrub or small tree reported as having a high potential of invasiveness due to its prolific seed production, rapid growth, and its capability to reproduce vegetatively (Roshetko, 2001; Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). It is native from the southern United States into Argentina, and has been introduced in various countries as a multi-use tree for soil restoration, improvement of crop production and as a fodder (Brook et al., 1992; Dzowela, 1994; Hove et al., 2003; Cole et al., 2006; Csurhes and Naive, 2009). It has been reported as invasive in Asia, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia, where it has spread forming thickets, with persistent seed banks (Gardiner et al., 2008). It can be invasive in low deciduous forest in its native range (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). Although its use has been abandoned in Australia due to its high invasiveness potential (Csurhes and Naive, 2009), the species' use for agroforestry is being actively promoted in various countries, mainly in Africa (Roshetko, 2001; Orwa et al., 2009). 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Mimosoideae
  •                                 Genus: Acacia
  •                                     Species: Acacia angustissima

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Acacia was described by Philip Miller in 1754 and has a complex nomenclature and classification history (Maslin et al., 2003b). Acacia sensu lato, is polyphyletic, which prompted proposals and discussions on the reclassification of the genus (Maslin et al., 2003a; Kyalangalilwa et al., 2013).

Orchard and Maslin (2005) proposed the retypification of the genus from Acacia scorpioides (L.) W.F. Wright (=A. nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Del), distributed from Africa to India, to A. penninervis Sieb. ex DB, an Australian species. This proposal was adopted in the 2005 International Botanical Congress Nomenclature Session, and ratified in the 2011 International Botanical Congress, not without plenty of debate (McNeill and Turland, 2011; Smith and Figueiredo, 2011; Thiele et al., 2011). Rico Arce and Bachman (2006) reinstated the genus Acaciella for species that are native from the Southern USA to Argentina. The genus is characterized by the unarmed plants, lack of extrafloral nectaries and pollen in 8-celled polyads. Fifteen accepted species and five varieties are recognized by these authors. According to the changes proposed by the authors, Acaciella angustissima (Mill.) Britton & Rose should be the name used for Acacia angustissima (Mill.) Kuntze. It is a species with high morphological variability and extensive synonymy (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006).

Acceptance of the new nomenclature has been slow or inconsistent. For example, Missouri Botanical Garden (2015), The Plant List (2013), and ILDIS (2015) still have not fully adopted all the changes. This datasheet follows the names being used at The Plant List (2013).


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The following description is from the Flora of Panama (2015): Shrub or tree, the branchlets pubescent or puberulent to subglabrous, not noticeably lenticellate, longitudinally striate or angled. Leaves moderately large, bipinnate, the pinnae few to several pairs (about 15 pairs in Panamanian material cited), opposite or subopposite on the rachis, the leaflets numerous (up to 60 or more pairs per pinna); petiole up to a few cm. long, puberulent, eglandular, sulcate above; rachis up to 12 or more cm. long, like the petiole; pinnular rachis 3-9 cm long, somewhat margined, seemingly eglandular, bearing basally a pair of stipule-like leaflets; leaflets nearly linear, usually about 6 mm long and 1 mm. wide, acute (mostly bluntly so) apically, obliquely truncate basally, glabrous except ciliate-margined, dull above and below but darker above, the costa visible but secondary venation obscure; stipules linear-subulate, mostly 4-6 mm long. Inflorescence a terminal or subterminal panicle of pedunculate umbels (heads), these solitary to few-fasciculate from the (usually) defoliate nodes; peduncles usually about 1 cm long; floral bracts obovate-spatulate, little more than 1 mm long; pedicels mostly 1-2 mm long, borne from the terminus of the peduncle in umbellate or very short-spicate fashion. Flowers few to several per umbel, whitish; calyx campanulate or turbinate, about 1 mm long, glabrous or sometimes sparingly ciliate, the teeth short and broad; corolla funnelform, about 2 mm long, glabrous, the lobes divided almost to the base; stamens many, about 4 mm long, free except at the extreme base; anthers eglandular; ovary scarcely stipitate, glabrous or minutely puberulent, the style slightly exceeding the stamens. Legume linear- oblong, 4-8 cm long and about 1 cm wide, flat and thin, stipitate, glabrous in age; the seeds few, transverse.


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A. angustissima is native to North America (Mexico and southern United States), Central America and South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina) (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). It is one of the acacias most widely distributed in the Neotropics (Cook et al., 2005). Outside its native range it is reported for the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Oceania (see distribution table for details). Although it is not listed for the Guyana's, Uruguay and Paraguay, Rico Arce and Bachman (2006) report that the species might have been introduced in those countries for forestry trials, as has been done in Brazil (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). It has been reported as naturalized in Australia and Southeast Asia (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006; Csurhes and Naive, 2009). 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


IndiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
IndonesiaPresent Planted PIER, 2015
-Nusa TenggaraPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
PakistanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
ThailandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015


Burkina FasoPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedBayala et al., 2009A plantation in Ouagadougou.
CameroonPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedAkume et al., 2015Introduced at Santa as a hedgerow on maize fields.
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
GhanaPresent Planted
KenyaPresentIntroducedGenesys, 2015
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedRubanza et al., 2007North-Western Tanzania in the Shinyanga region.
ZambiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedKuntashula and Mafongoya, 2005Chipata South, Chipata North, Katete and Chadiza districts of Eastern Zambia.
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009

North America

MexicoWidespreadNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Aguas calientes; Baja California Sur; Campeche; Chiapas; Chihuahua; Coahuila; Colima; Distrito Federal; Durango; Guanajuato; Guerrero; Hidalgo; Jalisco; México; Michoacán; Morelos; Nayarit; Nuevo León; Oaxaca; Puebla; Quintana Roo; San Luis Potosí; Sinaloa; Sonora; Tabasco; Tamaulipas; Veracruz; Yucatán; Zacatecas.
USAPresentNative Not invasive NatureServe, 2015
-ArizonaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Cochise; Santa Cruz.
-ArkansasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-FloridaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive NatureServe, 2015Rare
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015
-KansasPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive NatureServe, 2015Rare; Chautauqua, Cowley (possibly extirpated) Montgomery.
-KentuckyPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-LouisianaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Natural NatureServe, 2015
-MissouriPresentNative Natural NatureServe, 2015
-New MexicoPresentNative Natural NatureServe, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015
-OklahomaPresentNative Natural Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015Cleveland
-TexasPresentNative Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
Costa RicaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Cartago; Guanacaste; Puntarenas; San José.
CubaPresentIntroduced2008Martínez and Pérez, 2013Camaguey
Dominican RepublicPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2015Cultivated
El SalvadorPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Ahuachapán; Chalatenango; la Libertad; Morazán; San Miguel; Santa Ana; Sonsonate.
GuatemalaWidespreadNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Baja Verapaz; Chimaltenango; Chiquimula; Izabal; Quetzaltenango; Retalhuley; Huehuetenango, Nentón; Jutiapa, Asunción Mita; Petén; Sacatepéquez; San Marcos; Sololá; Zacapa.
HaitiPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
HondurasPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Atlántida; Comayagua; Copán; Cortés; El Paraíso; Francisco Morazán.
NicaraguaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Matagalpa
PanamaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Chiriquí

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015Jujuy, Salta.
BoliviaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015
BrazilPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009Cultivated
ColombiaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Santa Marta; Santander.
EcuadorPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
PeruPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
VenezuelaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Aragua; Carabobo; Delta Amacuro; Distrito Federal; Guárico; Lara; Mérida; Miranda; Portuguesa; Táchira; Yaracuy; Zulia.


AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced1965 Invasive Pedley, 1981
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. angustissima has been the subject of research over the past 20-30 years, for its potential as a fodder and use in agroforestry (Dzowela, 1994; Cook et al., 2005). Most of these studies began in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Hawaii (Brook et al., 1994; Cole et al., 1996; Bray et al., 1997). In Australia, Pedley (1981) reported the species as present in 1965; it was planted in 1975 in Queensland for assessment for forage and fodder (Csurhes and Naive, 2009). Research with the species was abandoned in Australia since it has been considered a potential invasive weed (Gardiner et al., 2008). It is reported to be naturalized in the areas where it was planted and to have spread to neighbouring locations (Csurhes and Naive, 2009).

Research in Africa also started in the early 1990's and has been facilitated by the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) to promote the species use for agroforestry and as a fodder (Dzowela, 1994; Dzowela et al., 1997). One of the countries where most of the planting has been done is Zimbabwe, where it has been made available to farmers and its reported as being highly desirable for agroforesty (Cook et al., 2005). It was introduced in the early 2000’s in Brazil (Paula et al., 2015) for its use as an intercropping tree in crop fields. It was introduced to Burkina Faso in 2005 with seeds coming from "Agroforester Tropical Seeds" from Hawaii (Bayala et al., 2009) for its use as a fodder and in site restoration. Martínez Quesada and Morales Pérez (2013) report it from Camaguey, Cuba; citing that the occurrence of few plants suggests an unintentional introduction, possibly resulting from dispersion by hurricane “Ike” in 2008.


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia 1965 Forage (pathway cause) Yes Pedley (1981)
Zimbabwe Belize Early 1990 Forage (pathway cause)


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A. angustissima is found in tropical and subtropical climates, adapting better to seasonally dry areas (Csurhes and Naive, 2009). It is found on dry soils on hillsides, savannahs, rocky outcrops, grasslands and open shrublands. It is also reported growing in Quercus and Pinus forests and at secondary low deciduous or semi-deciduous forests (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). In its native range mean annual rainfall varies from 400 to 3000 mm and mean temperature is 25-30°C; it tolerates cold climates once established (occasional temperatures below freezing) (Dzowela, 1994; Cook et al., 2005). It is reported to retain its leaf through the 8-month dry season in eastern Indonesia (Cook et al., 2005; Csurhes and Naive, 2009).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Rocky areas / lava flows Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural
Deserts Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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A. angustissima has been studied for its potential intercropping use, to provide nutrients to soil and improve crop yields, with mixed results (Roshetko, 2001). It is argued that the species secondary compounds bind nitrogen, which helps build up organic matter in the soil (Dzowela 1994, Mafongoya et al.,1997). Dzowela (1994) also discuss that slowly decomposing prunings may suppress weed growth in the crop fields. In Zimbabwe, A. angustissima leaf biomass application on Brassica napus fields significantly increased the growth rate and yield of the crop (Musara and Chitamba, 2015). A. angustissima has been reported to shade understorey species, inhibiting their vegetative growth (Cook et al., 2005). This has been the case in intercropping experiments at Brazil with bananas (Paula et al., 2015) and in Papua New Guinea with sweet potato (Brook, 1993).

Growth Stages

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Biology and Ecology

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Chromosome number is reported as 2n=26 (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006).

Reproductive Biology

Bees are reported as the dominant pollen vectors for the species, including Apis mellifera,Scarptotrigona hellwegeri, and species of Megachile, Augochloropsis, Ceratina, Eulonchopria, Exomalopsis and Xylocopa (Raine et al., 2007). It propagates by seeds (Cook et al., 2005) with an almost 100% germination success in trials (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, 2015). It also forms colonies by means of woody rhizomes (USDA-NRCS, 2015). Branches break easily, usually by wind, which promotes re-sprouting and root suckers (Rincón-Rosales and Gutiérrez-Miceli, 2008; Csurhes and Naive, 2009).

Physiology and Phenology

A. angustissima grows to a height of 5 m and 6 cm in diameter in 2½ years. It responds well to fertilizer when grown on acid-infertile soils. Nodulation is also improved with fertilization (Cook et al., 2005).

The species flowers throughout the year in its natural range (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006), and at the end of the dry season in Zimbabwe (Dzowela, 1994). Flowers are protandrous and open within a single day (Raine et al., 2007). Mechanical scarification and soaking the seed in cold water increases the germination (USDA-NRCS, 2015).

Flowers open at dawn and are fully open by 10am to noon. Flowers remain in a reproductive state for a few days, after which unpollinated flowers will fall (Raine et al., 2007).

Population Size and Structure

A. angustissima grows rapidly and responds well to regular cutting. It forms thickets, especially along roadsides in its native range (Cook et al., 2005). The damage caused by insects makes old trees vulnerable to strong winds, promoting new plants to emerge rapidly in the rainy season, which is reported as being an important propagation and survival strategy for the species (Raine et al., 2007).


Lloret et al. (2007) report the bacteria Ensifer mexicanus sp. nov. as a new species nodulating A. angustissima in Mexico.

Environmental Requirements

A. angustissima is found in tropical and subtropical climates, doing best in seasonally dry areas (Csurhes and Naive, 2009). It can withstand drought periods as long as 8 months, retaining its foliage (Orwa et al.,2009) and once established tolerates fires (Cook et al., 2005). In its native range it grows in areas with annual rainfall average of 400-3000 mm, with temperatures between 5° to 30°C; it can tolerate cold climates, sometimes temperatures below freezing (Dzowela, 1994). The species is noted to be more prolific at higher elevations, and flowering but not seeding at elevations close to sea level (Roshetko, 2001). It has been cultivated on a variety of soils, although it does best in free-draining, infertile and acidic soils (Csurhes and Naive, 2009). It responds well to fertilizers (Cook et al., 2005).


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
36 26 0 2600

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -10
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 28
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30 36
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10 20


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration07number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4003000mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Cogia hippalus Herbivore not specific Cook et al., 2005
Llaveiella taenechina Herbivore not specific
Sphingicampa blanchardi Herbivore not specific Cook et al., 2005
Sphingicampa raspa Herbivore not specific Cook et al., 2005

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In its native habitat, A. angustissima is eaten by the Acacia skipper butterfly, Cogia hippalus, and by the moth larvae of Sphingicampa blanchardi and S. raspa. Coccus axin (Margarodidae) females damage the stems and branches of young plants. Beetles (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) have been found to cause damage to the seeds (Raine et al., 2007).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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A. angustissima has been introduced to various countries outside its native range because of its potential as a multi-purpose tree (Pedley 1981; Brook et al., 1992; Dzowela, 1994; Cole et al., 1996, Bray et al., 1997; Paula et al., 2015). Pedley (1981) cites different localities and collections for Queensland, Australia, where it was introduced as a forage plant. Bray et al. (1997) and Cole et al. (1996) give details on the introductions to Indonesia and Australia to study shrubby legume species for their potential as fodder. The International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) has various projects in the southern region of Africa, providing seeds and plants that could be used in agroforestry to improve crop production and feed livestock in order to ensure food security in the region (Dzowela, 1994; Bohringer, 2001). The species was also introduced in Brazil to improve crop production (Paula et al., 2015).

The recent introduction of the species to Cuba has led to the suggestion that it may have been introduced from the  southern USA to Cuba by Hurricane "Ike" in 2008 (Martínez Quesada and Morales Pérez, 2013).

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Economic Impact

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A. angustissima leaves contain large amounts of nitrogen and a high percentage tannin content that can affect the digestion and absorption of nutrients and lower its palatability (Dzowela 1994; Bray et al., 1997). Odenyo et al. (2003) reported that the tannins and non-protein amino acids in its leaves had caused death in sheep, for which they suggested a gradual increase in the feeding of the Acacia leaves to cause adaptability and prevent toxicity. McSweeney et al. (2008) recommend further studies in ruminants to assess the links between these compounds and toxicity.

The use of A. angustissima for intercropping has not been recommended, because its rapid growth limits available light to other species, which inhibits their growth and/or affects crop yield (Brook, 1993;  Paula et al., 2015).

Environmental Impact

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Although there is little information on the impacts of A. angustissima on habitats and/or biodiversity, Rico Arce and Bachman (2006) and Csurhes and Naive (2009) note that the species tends to be weedy or invasive in low deciduous forests and form thickets along roadsides and neighbouring areas, which can impact the habitats and the native species within. Its prolific seed production is a determining factor for the species becoming weedy (Bray et al., 1997). The seeds of A. angustissima have the ability to form long-lived seed banks; which for Australia were reported as still significant after five years without seed input (Gardiner et al., 2008).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts animal health
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - shading
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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Economic value

A. angustissima has been extensively promoted as a multi-purpose tree outside its native range, as a fodder, to restore soil fertility, and to improve crop production in countries where there is no food security, soils have been degraded and there is the need for low cost options for agroforestry (Dzowela, 1994; Bohringer, 2001; Rincón-Rosales and Gutiérrez-Miceli, 2008). The species has been used as a protein supplement in areas where forage is limited due to difficult environmental and climatic conditions (McSweeney et al., 2008). As an intercrop hedgerow species, it has shown good results in Cameroon, where the tree prunings incorporated to the soil significantly increased maize yield (Akume et al., 2015).

Social benefit

The plant is an important medicinal species for the Tzotzil and Tzeltal Maya Indians in Mexico. It is used to cure diarrhoea, toothaches, rheumatism and skin lesions. It is also reported to inhibit growth in malignant tumours (Berlin and Berlin,1996). A. angustissima inhibits the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Candida albicans showing a potential to treat diseases (Hoffman et al.,1993).

The bark is used in Mexico in the fermentation of the beverages “tepache” and “pulque” (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). The common name "carboncillo" reported for Costa Rica, may refer to use as charcoal (Zamora, 1991).

Environmental services

Cook et al., (2005) report the following environmental services: reducing soil erosion, re-vegetation of disturbed areas, improvement of water quality, improving soils, and providing food and cover for small animals and wild birds. 

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In the USA, A. angustissima is reported to be similar vegetatively to Desmanthus illinoensis (USDA-NRCS, 2015). Sterile material of Leucaena from Central America has been misidentified as A. angustissima (Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). Csurhes and Naive (2009) report that the species is easily confused in Australia with Acacia villosa and A. glauca.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cook et al. (2005) report that the species can be controlled using basal bark or cut-stump applications of tree-killing herbicides such as fluroxypyr, triclopyr or trichlopyr + picloram. Seedlings can be controlled using complete foliar sprays of fluroxypyr.

The species produces a high number of seeds that persist for more than five years in the soil. Sites where plants have been removed need to be monitored and treated for more than five years to assure that there is no reintroduction of the species (Gardiner et al., 2008). A risk assessment for Queensland (Csurhes and Naïve, 2009) states that any eradication campaign would be prolonged due to the persistent seed bank.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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The extensive synonymy, the recognition of some synonyms as valid species by different authors, the extensive native range and its variable morphology suggest that further studies are needed for the species delimitation (Roshetko, 2001; Rico Arce and Bachman, 2006). More information is needed in the impacts on invaded habitats and its effects on biodiversity.


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Links to Websites

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ICRAF database
International Legume Database and Information Service
Tropical Forages
World Wide


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09/04/2016 Original text by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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